F-15E fighters need radar upgrades
Basic programs like paying soldiers and maintaining aircraft are at risk

The U.S. Air Force is having a budgetary crisis right now that is starting to spill over into programs that need funding. According to some top USAF officials, the lack of budget means that paying soldiers and maintaining equipment and aircraft is becoming increasingly difficult.

Assistant Air Force secretary for financial management Jamie Morin said, "If we don't get some degree of relief, as the Congress continues its work, those will impose significant real implications on Air Force operations."

Currently the continuing resolution (CR) that the USAF is working under prohibits the awarding of new production contract and the production rates for equipment needed as well as new construction projects are hurting. The military personnel fund is $1.2 billion short and the operations and maintenance budget has a $4.6 billion deficit. 

General Philip Breedlove said in an email, "The current continuing resolution, which expires March 4, has negatively affected Air Force modernization programs. Production rate increases and new production -- which includes military construction -- have been prohibited. Additionally, our day-to-day operations are constrained. An extended [CR] further increases the pressures on our Air Force, and funding shortfalls in military pay and health care will affect training and readiness."

The Air Force is currently moving money around to be able to fund projects that need money now and delaying projects that won't need money until later in the year. However, Morin says that the ability to move money around by the Air Force is "running out of room to maneuver."

"You do this by robbing Peter to pay Paul; you find programs that don't need their money early in the year and you borrow from them and reprogram those resources into the programs that do need the money early in the year," Morin said. "Our ability to mitigate is basically fully used up now."

Several programs are being affected by the lack of budget according to officials. One of the programs is the upgrade for radar systems in the F-15E aircraft as well as upgrades to the F-15C. The radar in the F-15E is no longer made and parts are increasingly hard to find according to officials and the fleet is set for an upgrade. However, if the contract for the upgrade isn’t awarded this year the fighters may have to be grounded "down the road."

The USAF isn’t the only branch of the military that is facing budget issues and looking to get money from other programs. The Army has formally announced that it has decided to terminate the Class I Unmanned Aerial System and the Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors program. This is the program that had a stop work order issued back in January.

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